Fellow Travelers

In which I talk to my favorite authors about their craft, big ideas, and lessons learned. Culture is a single extended conversation about the meaning of life, and we wander its forking paths in search of insight, however fleeting.

Follow the links below to read the full interviews and subscribe to my newsletter to find out when new interviews drop. May they aid you on your own journeys as much as they have me on mine.

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"Narratives are compressed expressions of identity, cross-sectional slices. They can tell you things you need to know, but like any section or map, they do not tell you everything."
-Nick Harkaway on Gnomon

"I had to find the heart of the story, which was really my transformation from someone who was loved but couldn’t feel it, into someone who could feel it. And once that became the central catharsis, everything else—eventually, with tremendous rewriting and editing—fell into place."
-Eva Hagberg Fisher on How To Be Loved

"History is full of dead, failed heroes. We tend to forget that when we climb up on our metaphorical horses."
-Robert Jackson Bennett on Foundryside

"Despite all the mythology around American exceptionalism, the recipe for avoiding ruin in this country is no different than in any other country. It contains only two ingredients: ensure that your systems of power reflect the diversity of your population as a whole, and acknowledge the entirety of your history, no matter how painful."
-Omar El Akkad on American War

"Friendship is the smallest measurable unit of political resistance."
-Annalee Newtiz on Autonomous

"You have to concoct a meaning out of it all, and one good meaning is to be passing things along the generations, with the idea that you’ve done your part in your life, in terms of the longer species life."
-Kim Stanley Robinson on Red Moon

"The people you know are representative of the world: generally good, sometimes careless or selfish, and, on the whole, wanting to make things better for everyone."
-Cory Doctorow on Walkaway

"It’s easy to assume that technological 'progress' unfolds in a mostly linear and inevitable way, but that’s far from true."
-Malka Older on State Tectonics

"What unifies the work is that the story transports me to a place of deeper awareness."
-Alexander Weinstein on Children of the New World

"I doubt George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four would have been nearly as widely read or have had nearly the cultural or lexical impact if he’d written it as an essay rather than as a novel."
-Barry Eisler on Livia Lone

"The big successes in synthetic biology will be created not by multi-billion dollar labs but by newcomers experimenting without preconceptions—in much the same way that early Internet entrepreneurs disrupted existing gatekeepers."
-Daniel Suarez on Change Agent

"It’s interesting working on it in chunks, because you’re plotting individual stories and then fitting them into the overall narrative — but I wasn’t going for plot much with this, I was taking a very different tack to my more commercial novels, and just exploring people, relationships."
-Lavie Tidhar on Central Station

"The biggest challenge is to think different while being connected. It’s easy to think different while in isolation; it is easy to be connected. It is vastly harder to see different, make different, be different while connected to seven billion humans all the time."
-Kevin Kelly on The Inevitable

"Read a lot, write a lot, and get out of your comfort zone. Put yourself in someone’s else’s position as much as you can, either by immersing yourself in a different kind of life or by thought experiment."
-Malka Older on The Centenal Cycle

"We live in a science fiction novel that we are all writing together. Because of that, science fiction is the realism of our time. It’s become the most relevant and dominant art form in our culture."
-Kim Stanley Robinson on New York 2140

"It’s all one job, and it’s the job of life—finding one’s purpose in all the madness."
-Lucas Carlson on Big Data

"I went down a dozen blind alleys and labored over scenes for weeks that turned out to have no role in the story, despite the further weeks I spent trying to cram them in. I avoided looming structural problems by working instead on solid, finished scenes. I am trying to shed or outrun these terrible habits, but probably some of that blind-alleyism is just how I do this thing. Behind the pages of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot can be found another four times that number of pages."
-David Shafer on Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

"Humans are impressive explorers but really terrible colonizers. We make great tools, but we’re irresponsible with them. This imbalance has not worked well on Earth. We need to be as thoughtful as we are handy."
-Meg Howrey on The Wanderers

"A talent for writing is to writing a novel as a talent for tools is to building a house: necessary, but not sufficient."
-Barry Eisler on A Clean Kill in Tokyo

"The best and most memorable science fiction makes you think about people, society, and technology, and it changes you."
-William Hertling on Kill Process

"There are many different varieties of democracy in the world, and none of them is perfect yet, but we’re still working on coming up with more. Our semi-democratic political system, specifically, is a work in progress."
-Malka Older on Infomocracy

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Eliot Peper is the author of Bandwidth, Borderless, Breach, Cumulus, True Blue, Neon Fever Dream, and the Uncommon Series. He's helped build technology businesses, survived dengue fever, translated Virgil's Aeneid from the original Latin, worked as an entrepreneur-in-residence at a venture capital firm, and explored the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Mustang. His books have been praised by the New York Times Book Review, the Verge, Popular Science, Businessweek, TechCrunch, io9, and Ars Technica, and he has been a speaker at places like Google, Qualcomm, and Future in Review.

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